Daily Dose: ‘Kites’ by Simon Dupree and The Big Sound

This week’s going to be quite shaky in terms of regular updates, they may all come in one great spurt next week, we shall see. So, this story has some incredible mythos behind it, which I didn’t realise as I was hearing it on a family cassette when I was about four (and several subsequent times). It starts with the three Shulman brothers from Scotland (Derek, Phil and Ray). They created a band together, didn’t have much initial success, got persuaded to take their sound in a new psychedelic direction by EMI, that old music industry story. They also had people like Elton John and Dudley Moore play on their records, so they must have been doing something right. Anyway, the result of all those shenanigans was the release of this single, in 1967, and and follow up album, Without Reservations. This song made the top ten in the UK, but they apparently weren’t so keen on it: Derek Shulman reportedly later described ‘Kites’ as, and I quote because it’s amazing, “utter shit”. Isn’t that just a fantastic thing to say about your own song? Anyway, they disbanded in 1969 fed up with the music industry as was, and the three brothers then went on to form cult prog heroes Gentle Giant, so the tale does have a happy ending, sort of. See, told you it was a good backstory, right? As for the song, it’s alright! It’s probably pretty standard sixties pop-psychedelia to most people who haven’t heard it before, taking aside the nostalgia value it has for me. It’s pretty soppy and possesses some novelty value though, so I wouldn’t discount it completely if you are a lover of musical history. Not sure about all those wind sounds and that female spoken interlude though. I guess production in the sixties just worked differently, man.

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